US regulator names winners in spectrum auction

The two largest mobile phone companies in the US dominated bidding in a record-setting government spectrum auction, an Associated Press report said.

AT&T and Verizon Wireless combined to account for €10.3 billion/US$16 billion of the €12.61 billion/US$19.6 billion bid in the auction, an Associated Press analysis of Federal Communications Commission data shows.

Verizon Wireless bid €6.05 billion/US$9.4 billion and AT&T €4.25 billion/US$6.6 billion, Associated Press added.

The results raised concern that the auction failed to attract any significant new competitors to the mobile market to challenge the dominant companies.

For example, Google was not among the winners, so after months of speculation, the search engine giant will not be entering the wireless business.

One new entrant, Frontier Wireless, owned by direct broadcast satellite TV company EchoStar, won nearly enough licences to create a nationwide footprint. Frontier bid €458 million/US$712 million, according to FCC data.

The spectrum was freed by the nationwide transition to digital broadcasting.

The hope is that consumers will benefit from more advanced mobile services such as high speed Internet access. The money raised will be used to help public safety programmes and offset the federal budget deficit.

Despite the dominance in the auction by the major mobile operators, the FCC chairman was optimistic about the auction results, according to the report.